The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Indiana Hoosiers took the first step toward capturing a national championship at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. on Saturday.
Behind a clutch two-run double in the eighth inning off the bat of Wes Rea, the Bulldogs sent the Oregon State Beavers to the losers bracket in the double-elimination tournament by the score of 5-4. The Hoosiers shut down Louisville, 2-0, behind pitcher Joey DeNato to move the Cardinals one game from elimination.
The Bulldogs will now face the Hoosiers to advance in the winners bracket, and the Beavers will face the Cardinals in a fight to stave off elimination.
Here's a deeper look at both games from Day 1 of the CWS.
Mississippi State vs. Oregon State
Score by Innings
W: Ross Mitchell (13-0)
L: Matt Boyd (10-4)
SV: Jonathan Holder (19)
Keys to the Bulldogs Win
Obviously Rea's double was the big blow, but the Bulldogs bullpen was also key in the victory. Kendall Graveman wasn't sharp to start. He allowed four runs—two earned—through 4.2 innings.
When he left the game, the Bulldogs were trailing 4-3. Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder pitched the remaining 4.1 innings without allowing a run.
Without their work from the pen, the team might not have been in position to take the lead on Rea's hit. The Bulldogs took advantage of a less-than-dominant performance from Beavers ace Andrew Moore. The four earned runs he allowed were far above his 1.57 ERA on the season.
The team may not face a pitcher of Moore's quality for a while, so this was a major win. Here are the highlights from ESPN on YouTube.
Indiana vs. Louisville
Score by Innings
W: Joey DeNato (10-2)
L: Chad Green (10-4)
Key to Hoosiers Win
Two early runs were all DeNato needed to spur the Hoosiers to victory. The Cardinals had a few opportunities to score, but clutch pitching and solid defense kept them scoreless.
Will Nolden had one of the memorable plays in the field. He nailed Sutton Whiting at the plate in the bottom of the third inning to end the frame
Which team was most impressive?
DeNato's complete game, a four-hit shutout, was highlighted by eight strikeouts. The Hoosiers came into the game ranked 20th in the nation in batting average and touted power hitters like Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis, but the team didn't need the firepower on Saturday.
If Indiana can continue to get this type of pitching performance, it will be very tough to beat.
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